"Illegal Migration: Faith-Based Social Principles and Secular Policy": Fairfield University presents experts discussing immigration reform initiatives in a panel at the University of San Francisco February 24

Rev. Richard RyscavageAmerica's contentious immigration debate could become less polarized if people of all faiths tried to find common ground through the lens of their religious values and symbols.

That perspective - the subject of initiatives led by Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life - will be explored at an event to be held Thursday, Feb. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the University of San Francisco entitled, "Illegal Migration: Faith-Based Social Principles and Secular Policy." The program will feature the Center's director and professor of sociology, Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., a renowned expert on immigration and refugees, as the keynote speaker. He will be joined in discussion by Jocelyn Boryczka, Ph.D., associate professor of Politics and director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program at Fairfield, and Maria M. Odom, J.D., an immigration attorney who has spent years representing immigrants and corporations seeking to bring essential workers to the U.S, and is executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

The program for the evening will offer a dynamic dialogue spotlighting Fairfield initiatives that may help to reshape the debate on immigration. "The dialogue will focus on how faith-based principles for social life can provide criteria for Catholics and non-Catholics to evaluate current public policies and laws dealing with immigration," said Fr. Ryscavage, who was executive director of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Office for Migration and Refugee Services and head of the Jesuit Refugee Service USA. In 2006, the Vatican invited Fr. Ryscavage to join the Holy See's delegation to the 61st United Nations General Assembly, where he participated as an advisor to the Secretary General's U.N. High Level Dialogue on Migration.

The event builds on a body of work related to different aspects of the immigration issue currently underway at Fairfield's Center for Faith and Public Life. One of these important projects is an initiative entitled "Strangers as Neighbors: Religious Language and the Response to Immigrants in the United States," a grant project co-directed by Dr. Boryczka. It has centered on a series of meetings and academic workshops hosted by the Center that brought together some 100 individuals - including religious leaders of different faiths, politicians from different parties, NGO and non-profit organization leaders, advocates, and scholars - to discuss immigration reform. This project was initially funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York. The second initiative, funded by the Ford Foundation, is entitled "Immigrant Student National Position Paper," and is studying the problems of undocumented students in Jesuit colleges and universities. It will involve a mixed-methods research study done in collaboration with Santa Clara University and Loyola University Chicago. Please visit http://www.fairfield.edu/cfpl/index.html for further details.

The discussion and a reception will be held at the University of San Francisco, Fromm Hall, Maraschi Room, 2130 Fulton Street in San Francisco, and is hosted by Joseph P. Russoniello '63, J.D., and the Fairfield Alumni Association. Please direct questions to the Office of Alumni Relations at (203) 254-4280. A similar program was held in Washington, D.C., in November and one will also be held in Chicago on June 14, 2011.

For further information about programs in Fairfield University's Center for Faith and Public Life, please e-mail cfpl@fairfield.edu.

Image: An upcoming event in San Francisco sponsored by Fairfield University, the University of San Francisco, and Santa Clara University will feature Fr. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of the Center for Faith and Public Life and professor of sociology; and Jocelyn Boryczka, Ph.D., associate professor of Politics and director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 8, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 197

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